"Porträt Johannes Stelling" (2021)
Photo paper, wood, steel chain, electric motor, fan
Gefängnis am Amtsgericht Köpenick, installation views
The kinetic photo installation for the Open Monument Day in 2021 in the former district court prison of Köpenick in South East Berlin deals with the persecution and murder of political opponents by the Nazis, known as the “Köpenicker Blutwoche”, which took place in June 1933 in this prison, among other places. As an SPD member of the Reichstag and former Minister President of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Johannes Stelling was one of the most prominent victims of the revenge action and is representative of many others in this work.
The installation, which hangs freely in the open stairwell of the men’s wing of the prison, is attached to an electric motor that slowly moves the three-meter-long strips of the photograph in a circle. A fan located on the landing blows the image strips apart at regular intervals, thus repeatedly rendering the portrait unrecognizable. The illumination with only one LED floodlight creates a fascinating play of shadows on the opposite wall, which repeatedly forms interference patterns with the image strips as they glide past. The physical image is expanded to include a disembodied presence that, in its ephemeral form, fundamentally illustrates the nature of memory: briefly appeared, barely graspable, in a constant state of flux. Together with the sound of the swirling strips of paper, a poetic image is created that illustrates the difficulty of doing individual justice to the victims of Nazi terror away from commemorative rituals and the perception of them as an overwhelming number.